A couple weeks ago I wrote about my first full-body TSA pat-down. This is about my second.
I was at Portland International Airport, which travelers routinely rank as the best in the country. The terminal looks like a fine hotel. A fine hotel crawling with TSA blueshirts, that is.
The ratio of blueshirts to travelers was ridiculously high. There were blueshirts everywhere. It looked like an umpires' convention, minus the white canes and seeing-eye dogs.
I'll fast-forward to when I reached Checkpoint Charlie, the point I had clearly left the American sector and where everyone is either felt up or x-rayed as punishment for committing the horrific crime of flying while American.
At Checkpoint Charlie, I told Mr. Checkpoint Blueshirt that I would not be going through the millimeter wave scanner. Talking into his shoulder, he said quietly, "Male assist."
A young, giant (but very soft) blueshirt answered the call. I told him I did not consent to any searches, that any search would be against my will and under duress, and that what he was about to do would be a violation of my Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Talk about seizures — when I finished, he looked as if he was ready to have one.
Now it was his turn to talk into his shoulder. I couldn't hear what he said, but apparently he called for backup because another young, giant (but very soft) blueshirt appeared within seconds. Mr. Backup Blueshirt never did much except stay real close and watch me carefully.
I wondered whether either of them had an inkling what the Fourth Amendment says.
The first young, giant (but very soft) blueshirt — I'll call him Mr. Molester Blueshirt — asked me whether I had anything in my pockets.
"No," I said. "I just emptied them." But as I was saying that, I was also double-checking, and sure enough, I found a tissue. I proceeded to toss it into a nearby waste basket.
As the tissue was floating toward the waste basket, the two blueshirts didn't exactly panic, but they sure snapped to. "No!" they both exclaimed.
Then, with the tone he would have used had Wile E. Coyote tossed a package marked "TNT" into the garbage, Mr. Molester Blueshirt ordered Mr. Backup Blueshirt: "Take that out and check it!"
"Careful! I cried on it. I was visiting my dad in the hospital," I warned them as seriously as if tears were plastic explosives. But that was not an entirely accurate statement. I had actually snotted all over the tissue as a result of crying in the hospital. Take that, Mr. Backup Blueshirt.
Finally it was time for Mr. Molester Blueshirt to commence with the molestation. Like my first TSA pat-down a week earlier in New Orleans, this one wasn't grotesquely invasive. But this guy took it a little farther.
He asked, "Is it okay if I place my fingers in your waistband?"
"No, it is definitely not okay."
This stopped him cold and even flustered him. He glanced over at Mr. Backup Blueshirt. Mr. Molester Blueshirt was clearly at a loss, so I decided to help him out. I volunteered, "It's not okay if you place your fingers in my waistband, but I have to get to New Orleans, so do what you have to do to get me out of here, and I won't resist."
And in the next instant, I went from aggressively giving orders to passively allowing a stranger to place his fingers in my waistband and run his hands all around me, like a good, wimpy American that almost all of us have become.
Regular listeners know I brag about my daughter every few shows. To friends and family, I brag about her every few minutes. Sorry about that.
Today is a good day to brag about her again, because she finished her undergrad work yesterday, a full two years early, a 4.0 GPA in her major (English) and in her minor (history), and with highest honors, summa cum laude.
Because I am extraordinarily lazy, I will borrow from some of my previous posts.
In January of 2011, my daughter announced to me that if she worked hard, she could graduate in the spring of 2012. I told her she must have done her math wrong, because she still had about seventy-five hours remaining. Undaunted, she showed me her plan and explained that if she took heavy loads every semester, she indeed would graduate in May of 2012.
Okay, I told her, say you are able to graduate then. Understand this: You won't be able to attain your goal of graduating summa cum laude, because you would need all A's the rest of the way, and there's no way you can take heavy load after heavy load after heavy load and make all A's. Forget summa cum laude, or forget May 2012. Something has to give.
But for her, not graduating summa cum laude was not an option, and her mind was made up: She would finish in May of 2012.
Good luck with that, I thought. No way.
What was I thinking? I should have known better. She pulled it off. Of course she pulled it off.
Since she was little I have reminded her of what Danny Thomas told his daughter Marlo: "I raised you to be a thoroughbred." Except I always modify it. I remind my daughter that Twice A Prince, My Gallant, Private Smiles, and Sham were thoroughbreds, too. They were the thoroughbreds who were at the starting gate with Secretariat at the 1973 Belmont Stakes but were in another zip code when Secretariat crossed the finish line. I show that race to my daughter. I tell her, "You're Secretariat." I tell her that thoroughbreds don't have a chance against her. She believes me.
She has her sights set on a master's degree within two years, a second master's within two years after that, and a PhD three years after that.
She'll do it, too.
This apple fell far from the tree.
I just experienced my first full-body TSA pat-down. One sentence in, and I'm already ahead of myself. First, the propaganda.
Right before getting to the first checkpoint, I saw a sign telling me how professional and important the TSA screeners are. It ended with a directive to treat them with the respect they deserve. My first thought was, "I would be in serious trouble if I stooped to treating them with the respect they deserve."
Overhead, a propaganda video featuring TSA administrator John Pistole informed us cattle that the TSA is the only reason the ghost of D.B. Cooper is not haunting the Friendly Skies. Or something like that. I wasn't paying much attention.
Belt and shoes off, pockets empty, scrotum tightening in anticipation of the feel-up that was in my very near future, I placed my baggage on the conveyor belt and walked toward the millimeter wave scanner, with no intention of going through it.
When it was my turn, all I said was, "No, thank you."
The extremely bored young kid asked, "You prefer a pat-down?"
"I do to that thing, yes."
Based on many cases I have read about, I figured the bored young kid would come to life and make a scene by yelling, "Opt out! Opt out!" as he called for backup. But he didn't do anything like that.
Here is what he did: About as quietly as he would have said, "Dude, check out the hottie at ten o'clock," and with the non-inflection of the terminally bored, he said, "Male assist." He got no response, which was not a surprise because I'm pretty sure no one heard him but me. He said it again a few seconds later, with no more volume or sense of urgency than the first time.
Male escort is more like it, I was thinking.
I was anticipating someone like Charon, the ferryman of Hades, but instead the guy who showed up was quite polite. He really was. He picked up all my baggage and, without stealing anything at all, carried it to where we would have our mandated man date.
I did not tip him for this.
He asked me, "Would you like a private screening room?"
I did not ask if there was an up-charge for that. All I said was, "No, thank you. Let's do this in public."
"Are you familiar with the full-body pat-down?"
"No, but I am familiar with that thing," indicating the x-ray naked scanner that the other human cattle were being herded through. "That's why I chose this."
He said, "Okay, I'm going to pat down your entire body, using the back of my hand in private areas." He was wearing blue gloves. And I don't think he actually used the word "private." I don't remember for sure, but that's what he was getting at.
Then he asked: "Do you have any sensitive areas?"
And I answered: "My body," followed by, "And I do not consent to this. I am allowing it under duress. It is in violation of my Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. But today is your lucky day. I love my dad more than I hate this process, and I have to get to Portland to see him. So there it is."
Great. Here we go.
Several months ago I interviewed a guy who was sexually molested by a TSA screener. As in, the screener reached into the poor guy's underwear and touched his genitals. The beans and the wiener. More than once. Then there's the former Miss USA who was reduced to tears by the molestation she received at the hands of a TSA pervert who touched her genitals four times.
Why do you think I was afraid to treat them with the respect they deserved?
But when Mr. Friendly TSA Screener did his thing, it was no big deal at all. No touching of private parts, no hands under the waistband, nothing grossly offensive, and it was over in about half a minute.
Not that I think that this not-so-full-body pat-down is acceptable. It's not. But it sure beats a full-on groping.
But I wasn't done yet. Next, he tested his gloves for explosives residue. I knew, of course, that an accurate reading would come up negative. But what if it wasn't accurate? False positives are not exactly unheard of, and I would certainly miss my plane if he got one this time.
Ah, but he didn't. And the pat-down, eventful for its uneventfulness, was over.
In my most recent column, I said my next one would be about the destruction of our liberties. I lied. That wouldn't be the first time
I'll get around to writing that column soon enough. But for now, I just have to comment on a press release posted at the web site of the Greater New Orleans Republicans. I'll quote their entire press release, a little at a time, with my comments interspersed. In the press release, GNOR expressed their intense displeasure with the Louisiana Republican caucus. For the record, 150 delegate slots at the Louisiana Republican State Convention were up for grabs last Saturday at the caucus, and Ron Paul supporters won 111 of the 150, or 74 percent.GNOR press release
"The Greater New Orleans Republicans call for the resignation of the leadership of the Republican Party of Louisiana in response to the debacle of (Saturday’s) caucus."My comments
I agree with the resignation part. I just disagree with the when and the why. I think they should have resigned four years ago after they broke several of their own rules in an effort to stifle the efforts of Ron Paul's supporters. Alternatively, they could resign on general principle, the general principle being that they have a long history of supporting candidates who support undeclared wars of aggression overseas, a war on civil liberties here at home, and borrowing and spending ad nauseam
, if not ad infinitum
As for the caucus being a "debacle," I must confess that I would agree with that assessment if I supported Ted Kennedy, uh, that is, Mitt Romney.
Moving along . . .GNOR press release
“ 'We congratulate Ron Paul supporters for apparently capturing their first state delegation in this Presidential election cycle through an excellent get out the vote effort today,' stated GNOR Chairman Sarah Roy."My comments
Hey, Sarah: Only six days before the Louisiana debacle, in Minnesota Ron Paul won 20 of 24 Congressional District delegates to the Republican National Convention, with 16 more delegates still up for grabs. I stink at math, but I'm pretty sure Ron Paul won Minnesota (okay, so at worst he could tie for first).GNOR press release
“However, the result of this ill-conceived and confusing caucus clearly does not represent the will of the vast majority of Louisiana Republican voters as Ron Paul recently received only six percent of the vote in the Louisiana Presidential Primary.”My comments
Actually, here I will quote Doug Wead, senior adviser for the Ron Paul campaign:
"Months ago the Ron Paul campaign looked at Louisiana and decided that the best strategy was to concentrate on the caucus. The rules in Louisiana apportion 20 of the states delegates from the votes in its statewide primary, which was held last March and 24 delegates from it caucus system which elects delegates at the precinct level to go to district conventions where they elect delegates to go to the state convention where the final delegation will be chosen.
"What would you do? Spend your money trying to win the 20? Or spend your money trying to win the 24?"GNOR press release
"This odd and undemocratic result unfortunately will embarrass and distract Governor Jindal, as he labors to pass his Legislative agenda, and presumed Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, as he clinches the nomination and turns his attention to defeating President Barack Obama."My commentsThe result was certainly not "odd." The so-called "leadership" of Louisiana'
s Republican party probably saw this result coming a mile away. After all, they had to have known that Ron Paul had recently drawn several crowds of several thousand people in many parts of the country. Combine that with ballots that are: a) paper; b) guarded by a sheriff's deputy; and c) counted under the watchful eyes of an observer from each campaign (as opposed to hackable, trail-less, electronic voting we are subjected to at the primaries), and what should we expect?The result was undemocratic?
Hmmm. It looked like one person, one vote to me, with no qualified voter turned away, and with paper ballots counted in public.
The result "will embarrass and distract Governor Jindal"? Really? You mean embarrass him more than his laughable endorsement of Rick "Oops" Perry? Distract him more than his out-of-state fund-raising junkets? If he can be distracted from anything of importance by the result of a caucus, GNOR should be calling for his resignation as well.T
he result "will embarrass and distract . . . Mitt Romney, as he clinches the nomination and turns his attention to defeating President Barack Obama"? First, Romney has not clinched the nomination. Second, he SHOULD be embarrassed by being overwhelmed by a candidate who has been alternately ridiculed and ignored by the national and local media, not to mention the political machinery. And again, if Romney can be distracted from something so important by a single caucus defeat (however humiliating), he shouldn't be running for dog catcher, let alone president.GNOR press release
"Several members of GNOR ran in the caucus, and GNOR, along with the Romney Campaign, attempted to motivate Republican voters to turn out. However, sparse and obscure voting locations, morning voting hours, scheduling during the Zurich Classic, Jazz Fest and Legislative Session, combined with setting the caucus so late in the Primary season that all major challengers to Mitt Romney had dropped out, made it all but impossible to offer voters a rationale to caucus."My comments
All those things didn't make it all but impossible for Ron Paul's supporters to offer voters a rationale to caucus. I wonder why. I know a few of the people who were elected at the caucus. They have never been involved in politics, yet they crushed many long-established party insiders, including two former U.S. Congressmen. And the Greater New Orleans Republicans, instead of looking at what makes Ron Paul so appealing, look for excuses.GNOR press release"
Further, after Rick Santorum, who garnered the most votes in the Louisiana Primary, left the race, members of GNOR proposed a unity ticket, comprised of supporters of Santorum, Gingrich and Romney, allowing those who would support the eventual nominee to run as one. However, state party leaders, unwilling to share delegates with the Romney campaign, vetoed the approach."My commentsFirst, don't ever say "comprised of," dammit! It ain't good grammar. Look it up.Second
, maybe "state party leaders" finally got one right by being "unwilling to share delegates with the Romney campaign." After all, Romney has had more positions than David Vitter in a brothel, and a lot of Republicans simply don't trust him. Okay, they trust that he'll flip-flop from here to eternity, but that's where the trust ends.GNOR press release"
Today’s debacle clearly lies at the feet of State Party leaders, who with combined arrogance and incompetence, ignored warnings that the Byzantine system they had conjured could be manipulated, ignored calls for unity and common sense, and instead caused the State of Louisiana, Governor Jindal and likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney embarrassment. They should own up to their misdeeds and resign."My comments
Cool. Establishment Republicans calling other establishment Republicans arrogant, incompetent and lacking common sense. I don't think I've ever seen Democrats say that about Democrats, though they certainly should.
id they hold caucuses in Byzantium?